Monday 6 October 2014, It is essential to be vaccinated against yellow fever when travelling to countries and areas where the disease is prevalent. This is according to Dr Pete Vincent of Netcare Travel Clinics and Medicross Tokai family medical and dental centre, who adds that this mosquito-borne disease is endemic in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America.
“Yellow fever is a viral disease for which there is no cure. However there is an effective vaccine which will prevent it,” says Dr Vincent. Wild monkey populations are natural carriers of the virus in tropical regions. Mosquitoes acquire the virus through feeding on the blood of infected monkeys. A person bitten by an infected mosquito will most likely acquire the disease.
The illness develops within six days of being bitten by an infected mosquito. Most cases of yellow fever are mild and the symptoms typically include a fever, headache, body pains and nausea. “The virus particularly impacts the liver and a form of jaundice usually develops, causing the victim to turn a yellowish colour, which is how the disease earned its name,” explains Dr Vincent.
“There is no cure for yellow fever, which usually runs its course and can be treated with painkillers that are not aspirin based, and by keeping patients hydrated. However if the disease progresses to the ‘toxic phase’ it can cause internal bleeding followed by a coma and even death in certain cases,” says Dr Vincent.
If you are planning on travelling to certain areas in Africa and Central and South America, you will require a yellow fever vaccination, which is available at any Netcare Travel Clinic. Travellers immunised against yellow fever are issued with an internationally recognised vaccination certificate, which is inspected by immigration officials.
According to Dr Vincent, international health regulations concerning yellow fever vaccinations are stringent, and unvaccinated travellers or people travelling without their vaccination certificate may be denied entry or even face quarantine in certain circumstances.
This strict control and regulation is maintained to ensure that both individual travellers and the broader communities are protected against outbreaks of the disease. South Africa is currently yellow fever free, however it does have mosquitos, which are capable of transmitting the virus. Therefore health authorities work very hard to prevent the inadvertent introduction of the yellow fever virus to these mosquitoes.
So if you are planning on travelling outside our borders, be sure to find out whether a yellow fever vaccine is compulsory for the area you will be visiting and make an appointment to get your yellow fever vaccination. The vaccination provides solid immunity against the disease for 10 years.
Please do not hesitate to contact your nearest Netcare Travel Clinic should you have any queries or questions regarding travel-related health topics. You may also visit www.travelclinic.co.za or email [email protected] for information.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Travel Clinic
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Sarah Beswick and Jillian Penaluna
Telephone: (011) 469 3016